An inmate shot and killed two Kansas deputies escorting him to court, authorities say
An inmate shot and killed two sheriff's deputies in broad daylight Friday, June 15, in Kansas while they were transporting him from a Kansas City jail to a courthouse across the street for a hearing, authorities say. One of the mortally wounded deputies managed to shoot the suspect, who remains hospitalized.
Deputy Patrick Rohrer died at a hospital on the same day. Deputy Theresa King died shortly after midnight Saturday. The two had a combined 20 years of service for the sheriff's department in Wyandotte County.
Rohrer and King had pulled up into the courthouse's back parking lot shortly after 11 a.m. Friday and were taking the suspect out of an inmate transport van when they were attacked, Wyandotte County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kelli Bailiff told reporters at a news conference.
Authorities said the inmate may have taken one of the deputies' guns and shot both of them. Pictures taken by local media show the white van, its doors wide open, parked in a gated portion of the parking lot and surrounded with yellow evidence markers.
Kansas City Police Chief Terry Zeigler did not share details about the shooting and told reporters that investigators are still speaking with witnesses. It's unclear if there were other inmates inside the van. Authorities also have not released any information about the suspect or the extent of his injuries.
John Garcia said he was just leaving the courthouse when he heard gunshots, and he and others were quickly told to go back inside. Looking out a window, he saw three people on the ground in a parking lot behind the building, Garcia told the Kansas City Star.
"They were there at the courthouse. You know, you're at one of the safest places where you can be. And, you know, this occurred right outside the courthouse, where there's, you know, multiple police around," he told the paper.
Rohrer, 35, was with the sheriff's office for seven years. King, 44, served for 13 years.
In a statement, David Alvey, mayor of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, said the city is saddened by the "senseless shootings" of the deputies.
"We must never forget the risk taken each day by our law enforcement personnel, and we must ever remember that they deserve our utmost respect and support," Alvey said.
Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer was told of the shooting Friday as he arrived for a forum in Kansas City. He asked for a moment of silence after his speech, according to the Kansas City Star.
"I was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic shooting of two sheriff's deputies outside the Wyandotte County Courthouse earlier this morning," Colyer said later in a statement. "Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line each and every day to protect the public and their selfless service deserve our highest honor."
The death of Rohrer and King follows three other shootings of Wyandotte County law enforcement officers in the past three years, according to the Star.
Kristine Phillips is a member of The Washington Post's general assignment team. She previously covered criminal justice, courts and legal affairs at the Indianapolis Star.